More civilians killed as tension soars along India, Pakistan border in Kashmir


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 19 January 2018| 01 Jumadul ula 1439

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Two civilians were killed and three others wounded in the latest ceasefire violations in the border villages of Jammu region in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.

The state police Chief, Shesh Paul Vaid, told Al Jazeera that the two civilians, including a 52-year-old woman, were killed in shelling from the Pakistani side in RS Pura sector in Jammu region.

On Thursday, an Indian soldier and a 17-year-old girl were killed in RS Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu, officials said, taking the death toll to four in 24 hours on the Indian side.

Since Friday morning, troops of the two countries traded heavy gunfire in the RS Pura and Ramgarh sectors along the border, officials said, amid soaring tensions between the two states.

“The heavy shelling started from the Pakistani side at night,” one official told Al Jazeera.

Another official said that Pakistani troopers violated the ceasefire by resorting to indiscriminate firing at Indian positions in several sectors along the border.

The fresh tension has caused further turbulence in the relations between India and Pakistan.

This is the third exchange of fire between the two countries in this sector in past three days, officials said.

The Jammu and Kashmir police in a statement said that Indian forces are effectively retaliating to the firing from Pakistan.

Following the latest shelling, the officials said that the schools located in the area were closed.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s military accused Indian troops of killing two civilians and wounding five others.

The latest exchange of fire started after Pakistan accused Indian forces of killing four of their soldiers near the de facto border.

Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets. Pakistan has denied the charges.

The hostilities increased between India and Pakistan since December last year after both accused each other of killing soldiers on either side.

In September 2016, India claimed to have launched “surgical strikes” on bases used by armed groups in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to fight Indian security forces.

Pakistan denied any Indian soldiers were ever on Pakistani-administered soil.

Since independence in 1947, the two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full.

The LoC has remained volatile in the last year. According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017, against 221 the year before.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population, and most support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule, despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight dissent.

Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory.

Source – Al Jazeera